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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chili Experts and Chilly Expats

photography shown here is by Amelia McGoldrick and have been used with permission.

As I sat in The Office listening to owner Alan Epstein buzz about the new chili burger that he's gonna put out just for the 4th of July, the thought struck me to how much the expat community is blossoming and how diverse it truly is.

Just so that we're all ont the same page, an "expat" stands for "expatriate". An expatriate is someone who is living in another country that isn't his own native land.  And BA's 1st annual chili cookoff on July 3rd was a real eye opener to the city's budding expat community. Over 300 people from different walks of life and backgrounds to celebrate their own version of American Independence Day.

So what causes people to become an expat and uproot and relocate to another country?  Is there are a certain "type" of person that tends to end up here in BA. Retirees? Young people wanting to do a gap year?  


The more time I spend here, the more I'm beginning to realize that there is no one "type" or category of persons who makes up the Buenos Aires expat community.  After multiple conversations with people, I start to hear the same story over and over again. People tell me "Buenos Aires just kind of happened. It wasn't something that they necessarily planned".  But not only is it fascinating to watch a myriad of new faces flooding to BA, but what they bring to the expat community is just as interesting.

We have Allie Lazar of Pick Up the Fork.  Food in BA can be somewhat of a telenovela. Will she love or hate her meal this week? Find out on her blog. Then there's Madi Lang of the BA Cultural Concierge. She knows more about Argentine history than you will ever read in history book.  Let her put together a Buenos Aires vacation for you that will go where no other tour has gone before.

New faces to the expat scene include Chef Mun, a Korean American and proud owner of Casa Mun. Casa Mun is Buenos Aire's hot new puerta cerrada (closed door restaurant). Chef Mun's magic happens every Saturday nite with kimchi, porkbuns and  perfect wine pairings thrown in for good measure. 

The above link is to an article about Chef Mun by wedding photographers Duff and Frances.  Frances Ren Huang is an Asian American hailing from San Francisco who specializes in yoga and acupuncture here in BsAs. She's also a photographer and food blogger. Discover her weekly finds on The Lost Asian.

My favorite thing about these expats that I've featured is that each respective person has a different thing that they are passionate about. At The Office, a burger isn't just a's heaven on a bun.  Alan Epstein has such a passion for North American style cuisine that the burgers there not only meet North American standards but actually exceed them. I have never tasted anything like these when I am on my home continent.

The same goes with the other expats. At the BA Cultural Concierge, Madi will arrange a trip for you that goes beyond your wildest imagination.  Chef Mun has gone above and beyond just making food, he's making magic and is redefining the world of closed door dining.  And Allie's food finding will have you saving time and money in showing you where to go and in some cases, where NOT to go.

Living in another country is different than visiting a country. It is one thing to visit and know you'll be back home in your country and culture in a week or so. And it is another thing to have to live here day in and day out and know that you're not going to have your creature comforts for awhile. Expat life is a mixture of being wonderful and exciting yet emotionally taxing at times.

Buenos Aires is like a massive steak that one has to chew but being part of a strong supportive expat community is one of the keys to survival. I don't know much about other expat communities in the world but I do know that here in BA, there is so much to support you if you ever have to spend extended time here.  When you're a foreigner, things like food blogs that tell you where you can go to get a taste of home suddenly become a key part of your survival. As well, having conversations with people much like yourself all go towards cutting this gigantic steak into little tiny bite sized bits.

Watching chili experts and chilly expats come together at the 1st annual cookoff there in the middle of the freezing Buenos Aires winter somehow gave me a warm glow on the inside....

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Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas